'Top Gear' Revs Up For Another Three Years


BBC Worldwide strikes commercial deals with U.K. presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond and snaps up remaining stake in Bedder 6, the show's commercial exploitation company.

LONDON – BBC Worldwide, the public broadcaster's money-making arm, has signed fresh three-year commercial deals with Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.

The deal, according to BBC, will mean the globally successful show's "international future" is secured for the hit BBC2 car show.

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BBC Worldwide has inked a deal to take full control of Bedder 6, the company which controlled the commercial rights to the show and was a joint venture between the BBC's commercial division, Clarkson and the program's producer Andy Wilman.

Prior to the deal, BBC Worldwide owned just over 50 percent of the company, giving it a controlling stake with Clarkson holding nigh on 30 percent and producer Wilman fractionally under 20 percent.

BBC Worldwide declined to comment on the financial details of the move to secure the next three years for Top Gear.

While entirely separate from the BBC's decision to commission the show for its channel, the BBC Worldwide move to shore up its position on commercial exploitation from the show and strike individual deals with the trio is a clear indication that the corporation regards the property as a valuable asset.

Clarkson's remuneration at the BBC coupled with his separate earnings in dividends from his 30 percent stake in Bedder 6 made him the highest-paid BBC star, earning more than £3 million in the year to March 2012.

BBC Worldwide said in a statement: "This agreement secures the commercial future of Top Gear without using a penny of Licence Fee money and allows us to continue to grow the brand around the world, reinvest in Top Gear and return profits to the BBC."

Under the new deal, May and Hammond will get a share of Top Gear commercial revenue generated by BBC Worldwide, in return for promoting the show around the world.

Bedder 6 was set up five years ago to ensure some of the money from the commercial exploitation of the Top Gear brand went to Clarkson and Wilman without inflating the salary the presenter receives from the license fee for fronting the show.

Industry insiders said the move is a positive one for format version deals already struck including Top Gear in the U.S., China, Russia, South Korea and Australia.

The British version of the show, with the trio hosting, also airs around the globe in various territories.